MHSAA Class 1A Preview

Simmons wide receiver Demarius Turner. Photo by Keith Warren/MHSAA.

For Simmons change is nothing new.

The Blue Devils will have a new head coach for the third consecutive season.

Timothy Johnson takes over the program after spending last year as the head coach at Yazoo City. He was with the Indians for one year and went 7-5 and reached the second round of the Class 4A playoffs a year after Yazoo City went 0-10.

“Took the job in late May and right now I’m trying to install in these kids that I’m here for the long haul,” Johnson said. “These kids are a great group and they know the expectations are really high. Every practice we’ve had is like a state championship.”

The Blue Devils are once again favorites to win the Class 1A state championship for a fourth year in a row and enter the 2018 season on the state’s longest active winning streak at 40 games.

Tyderius Gipson returns to anchor the offense at quarterback after tossing for 1,184 yards with 12 touchdowns and also adding four rushing touchdowns last year.

The biggest threat returning for the Blue Devils is do-it-all athlete Demarrius Turner. Turner had 913 yards rushing with 15 touchdowns and had 507 yards receiving with three touchdowns. Turner also picked up four touchdowns on special teams.

“Demarrius is a great athlete and Tyderius is the fastest kid on the team, so that makes a great combination,” Johnson said. “We stress about attention to detail and the guys are doing their best on not making mistakes.”

Defensively there will be no Amos Robinson at defensive end or Marquez Pam in the secondary, but the Blue Devils will not miss a beat.

Defensive linemen Tyus Levy (62 tackles in 2017) and Charles Robinson (24 tackles, 5 sacks last year) return to anchor the front seven.

Pierre Ricks, Ta’darrius Williams and Antavius Rounds all return to anchor the secondary.

“Nothing has changed on defense. Guys are fast and run to the ball and tackle well,” Johnson said. “There are teams in 1A North that match up with us speed for speed, so we better be ready.”

 

NEXT IN LINE

 

Lumberton: After reaching the 1A state title game in 2016, the Panthers went 10-3 and reached the second round of the Class 1A playoffs last year and aim to make deep playoff run in 2018. Lumberton has eight starters back on offense that’ll be led by quarterback Jared Tribett. He returns after tossing for 1,736 yards with 16 touchdowns to go with six rushing touchdowns. Robert Henry (1,225 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns in 2017) and Davion Edwards (730 yards rushing, 7 touchdowns last year) return to anchor the rushing attack, while Daylan Young will be the top receiver. Defensively the Panthers have seven starters back led by defensive linemen Cullen Hammond and Augustus Sandifer. Edwards (107 tackles last year) will lead the linebackers and Jayson Buckley (6 interceptions in 2017) will anchor the secondary.

 

Stringer: The Red Devils return nine starters on both offense and defense and are aiming to build off a season that saw them reach the second round of the 1A playoffs. Cayleb Dyess returns at quarterback after throwing for 2,043 yards with 25 touchdowns to lead the offense, while Anthony Thomas (1,461 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns in 2017) is back at running back to lead the rushing attack. Defensive linemen Devin May returns with linebackers R.J. Holifield (135 tackles last year) and Landry Dyess to lead the front seven. Conner Hicks and Dyess will anchor the secondary.

 

Okolona: The Chieftains have used last year’s loss to Simmons in the 1A North State Championship as motivation to fuel the offseason. Can Okolona have a similar year like they did in 2017? Well there will be growing pains. Offensively the Chieftains have six starters back that’ll be led by running backs Jacorrius Standifer (1,275 yards, 18 touchdowns last year) and Deonte Hampton (615 yards, 4 touchdowns in 2017). Defensively is where Okolona will have the biggest growing pains with just three starters returning. Marcus Thomas along with Standifer and Hampton will lead the defense.

 

Nanih Waiya: The Warriors are coming off one historic season that saw them fall just short in the 1A state championship game. But now Nanih Waiya will have to replace playmakers such as Chris Smith and Taumaus Glass, who combined to score 51 rushing touchdowns last year. The Warriors have six starters back on offense and will be led by a veteran offensive line led by Ole Miss commit Caleb Warren. Linebaker Shia Moore (119 tackles last year) will be one of the seven starters back on defense to lead that side of the ball.

 

Resurrection: The Eagles have had back-to-back years of making deep playoff runs, reaching the 1A south state title game twice and reaching the 1A state title game in 2015. There will be a lot of new faces to run the rush heavy offense. Resurrection has just five starters back on offense and will have St. Martin transfer Jake Galle at quarterback. Kolin Thompson will be the featured running back in the offense. Terrance Spivey (99 tackles in 2017) returns at linebacker to anchor a defense that returns six starters.

 

Smithville: The Seminoles have a new motto for 2018 and its “Smithville vs. Everyone.” So never count out Smithville who went 9-4 in 2017 and got upset at home by Shaw in the first round of the 1A playoffs. They will be a young team this year but will have a lot of overall team speed to build around. Offensively, Smithville will be breaking in a new quarterback and running back to lead the run heavy offense but have a veteran offensive line back led by Cole Hughey. Defensively the Seminoles will be led Layne Williams and Jabril Smith.

 

Noxapater: The Tigers have 15 starters back after going 8-4 and reached the 1A playoffs and got eliminated in first round by Stringer. Noxapater has a rich tradition of making the playoffs and have a chance to challenge Nanih Waiya along with French Camp in Region 3-1A. The Tigers have Quinton Gordon returning at quarterback and Joshua McClendon back at running back to lead the run heavy offense. Jarious Hathorn, Chase Ray and McClendon will anchor the defense.

 

French Camp: Panthers are aiming to be the No. 1 seed in Region 3-1A and have ten starters back. Offensively, French Camp has quarterback Holman Edwards back after tossing for 1,642 yards with 17 touchdowns to lead the offense along with running back Kendall Coleman, Jr (871 yards rushing, 14 touchdowns in 2017). Bradley Edwards and Clayton Leathers (85 tackles last year) return to lead the defense.

 

SLEEPER

 

East Marion: Things didn’t go as planned in 2017 for the Eagles who finished 5-7 and made the Class 1A playoffs. They must begin life without Javeon Howard at running back. Devin Daniels returns at quarterback to lead the offense after throwing for 940 yards with 13 touchdowns last year. Wide receiver Flenard McLin returns as the top receiver. Linebackers Jacob Johnson (72 tackles in 2017) and Michael Wilson (105 tackles last year) return to anchor the defense along with defensive tackle Wanya Cook. McLin will anchor the secondary for the Eagles.

 

McAdams: The Bulldogs made the Class 1A playoffs for the first time in over decade and have a lot of veteran players back to make another playoff run out of Region 2-1A. McAdams has nine starters back on offense led by quarterbacks Kristopher Brown and Jorden Fleming. The Bulldogs will have a veteran offensive line led by 6-foot-8, 340-pound offensive tackle Percy Lewis. McAdams has eight starters back on defense led by defensive ends Jaquan Winters and Fleming.

 

CLASS RANKINGS

  1. Simmons
  2. Lumberton
  3. Stringer
  4. Okolona
  5. Nanih Waiya
  6. Resurrection
  7. Smithville
  8. Noxapater
  9. French Camp
  10. East Marion

 

GAMES TO WATCH

 

Sept. 14: Okolona at Smithville

Sept. 21: Nanih Waiya at French Camp

Sept. 28: Simmons at Shaw

Oct. 19: Okolona at Biggersville

Oct. 26: Stringer at Lumberton

Nov. 1: Nanih Waiya at Noxapater

Nov. 2: Resurrection at East Marion